People Who Ride Motorcycles Have a Higher Risk of Hearing Loss

woman on motorcycle with helmet on.

Motorcycle enthusiasts often cite the thrill of speed and the love for the open road as the primary reasons behind their enthusiasm. However, if you’re a passionate rider, you should know about a substantial risk: research has linked this exhilarating hobby to irreversible hearing damage.

The effect of motorcycle speed and riding time on hearing health was examined in a detailed study conducted by a hearing protection manufacturer in cooperation with a prominent German automobile association. Alarmingly, at speeds of 62 or higher, for only 15 minutes, riders who don’t use hearing protection can suffer permanent hearing damage.

Why do motorcycle riders get hearing loss?

You may not be surprised that bikers frequently suffer from loss of hearing, but you may be surprised as to why. The greatest threat isn’t the roaring engine, contrary to the common belief, it’s really the wind. While helmets offer significant protection from injury during crashes, the research stresses that they fall short in protecting the rider’s hearing. Improvements to the helmet, such as added padding, vents, or weather stripping, do little to mitigate the wind noise swirling around the rider.

Regular exposure to extreme noise levels often leaves bikers with a condition called temporary threshold shift (TTS). TTS is a progressive condition, which means the more you are exposed to loud noises, the worse the symptoms can get. At first, TTS sufferers might detect minor symptoms like a temporary decrease in hearing clarity. But permanent hearing loss can, over time, be the outcome.

How do other noises compare to wind volume?

The German study sheds a lot of light on just how extreme wind noise can get while riding. At 62 mph, the wind around a biker’s head generates noise levels reaching 95 decibels (dB). To put into context, European Union (EU) law mandates that workers must protect their ears if exposed to noise levels exceeding 80 dB. Bikers are experiencing volume levels up to 19% higher than safe working environments when traveling at this speed.

And the volume level only gets louder as the speed increases. Hearing damage can take place after only 7 minutes of riding at 74 mph which generates wind volumes of 98 dB. Other studies validate these findings, suggesting that bikers are indeed at a considerable risk of hearing loss.

Protecting your ears

The good news is, it’s simple to safeguard your hearing with earplugs. Hearing specialists emphatically recommend making use of filtered earplugs, which are far superior to the old, uncomfortable versions most people are familiar with. These advanced earplugs are manufactured to protect your eardrums from high-pitched noises like wind while still allowing lower frequency sounds to penetrate. This means you’re able to hear essential sounds like sirens, horns, and human speech, which are critical for a biker’s safety.

Moreover, these modern earplugs let bikers enjoy the exhilaration of riding without feeling cut off or numb, a common downside of older protective devices. You can protect your ears from harmful wind noise while still experiencing the thrill of the ride by making use of filtered earplugs.

While the passion for motorcycling is fueled by the allure of speed and freedom, it’s essential to acknowledge and mitigate the associated risks to your hearing. The wind noise produced at high speeds can cause substantial and permanent hearing damage in a really short time. But bikers can protect their long-term hearing while still enjoying the ride by simply utilizing a set of quality earplugs.

Call today to learn more about hearing protection so you can stay on top of your hearing health.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.